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MirandaNet Fellowship Profiles (MirandaNet Archive - as of March 2015)
I am the Lead Designer for a serious games development company based in California. We produce training simulations for the HE sector in the US targeted currently at energy efficiency training. I have a personal interest in games for learning, and develop personal projects along these lines in my spare time. I have recently come from a Local Authority where I worked as a teacher advisor for Learning Platforms, and developed a passion for games based learning, and still provide intermittent support for schools in Worcestershire. Previously, I was a Physics teacher and before that a Research Scientist, so I have an interest and skill set in Science and Technology and I am forever looking for new opportunities to get learners personally involved in Sceince issues and methodology. I would consider myself an Edpunk - hacking learning approaches and tools and using them in divergent and creative ways to see what learning emerges.
My current interests in ICT are:
- Games-based education - I am brewing ideas currently about Alternate Reality Games and how they could be used to provide a learning experience which is subversive and runs in parallel to the day-to-day timetable of a secondary school. Most secondary schools are unwilling to engage in curriculum experimentation if it involves appropriating teaching time during the school day. ARGs could provide a mechanism for a more informal, fluid programme of learning which parallels the day-to-day lesson content whilst engaging learners in the content schools are struggling to cram into their heads without them realising it.
- New models of videoconferencing - I have been experimenting with different models of videoconferencing, some of which involve robots (see recent projects), some of which involve elements of a learning platform, and some of which simply involve cameras which are not static. All of this is to determine ways of making videoconference-based activities more immersive so that they come closer to the total immersion kids get when they visit somewhere in person.
- Using and building virtual worlds - There is a lot going on at the moment to do with how virtual worlds can be used in education. Second Life, being the dominant player in the sector, receives a lot of the attention but with the demise of the Teen Grid, using Second Life with younger learners has become fraught with barriers. There exist other options, however which bring with them fabulous new freedoms which were not possible with Second Life. The particular opportunity I have been investigating is using OpenSim, effectively an open source version of Second Life, to build worlds which are tailored to a specific learning goal. More interestingly, hosting your own virtual world allows you complete control over things like building and groups (and even gravity!) which means that kids can enter the world (which is secure - it doesn't have to be connected to a grid at all) and start building and collaborating straight away. All this comes at little or no ongoing cost to the educator.
Some of my recent projects:
British Museum Virtual Fieldtrip
Aa part of our experiments in novel models of videoconferencing, a group of KS2 learners from a school in Worcestershire were given the opportunity to control a Rovio mobile webcam robot via the internet. The robot was situated in the British Museum's Enlightenment Gallery and the kids explored some of the gallery's ancient Egyptian artefacts to enhance the unit they had done on Ancient Egypt. Below is a short video summarising the event and the responses of some of the children involved.
Hisory learning in a virtual world
This project was undertaken to investigate the benefits of using a virtual world to create an activity, based on a currently paper based KS4 activity, about the Cholera epidemic in teh Bromsgrove area. The activity involves students reconstructing a cholera hospital based on an invenory of items which they receive when they enter the world. Learners can rez these items in-world to reconstruct what the hospital would have looked like, and through this process they can learn about the measures taken to prevent the spread of the disease. This reconstruction can then be explored by other learners and notecards left as a means of peer assessment.
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